Hutchison would hit the next batter before allowing a bloop single and a triple to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead. He wouldn’t make it out of the inning.
“I was on a role in the windup,” Hutchison said. “And then going into the stretch it was just a little different. I was still confident, but things just weren’t going as I planned. Just got to work through it. I feel like I could’ve gotten out of it.”
Hutchison hadn’t allowed a runner to reach base all game before the walk, so he was pitching from the windup up until that point. Once he had to pitch out of the stretch, things went downhill.
Head coach Mike Fox partially attributed Hutchison’s meltdown to having to pitch out of the stretch, but he said that there was more to it than that.
“Sometimes be quick to the plate,” Fox said. “Control the running game. We’ve been talking to him about being not so slow to the plate, so you start trying to quicken up and it changes things and left one pitch up.”
Not only was Hutchison's downfall surprising, but the fact that he started was unexpected. Before Sunday, he already allowed eight runs in less than four innings of pitching and had one of the worst ERAs on the team.
“We need Rodney Hutchison to be good and we need him to pitch like he did last year,” Fox said. “And you know this game is all about confidence, that’s why I put Ashton McGee back in the three-hole today. We’re tinkering a little bit but this game is so much about confidence and about believing in yourself.”
Yet the decision to put the designated hitter in the third spot didn't prove fruitful on Sunday. McGee entered the game with only two hits in 17 at-bats and a .118 batting average. After going 0-3 on Sunday, his batting average dropped to .100.
“Nothing really you can do about it,” McGee said. “Honestly, it’s just done with. Honestly, just got to keep working and look for your next AB and not think too much about it.”
Hutchison and McGee haven't been the only players struggling. UNC produced just three hits on Sunday. This came following a two-hit performance on Friday night.
“Pitching, pitching, pitching,” Fox said of the Tar Heels' hitting struggles. “We got a mirror performance between Friday and Sunday. We’ve always struggled against the breaking ball, but I thought both those kids were just first pitching strikes and then we’re on the defensive.”
The loss was UNC's worst since Feb. 16, 2001, and it clinched the series for ECU after UNC won on Saturday night. This loss marks North Carolina’s fourth defeat of the week and its first 0-3 home start since 1962.
“It’s one game out of a lot,” Fox said. “Seemed like about three games there for a while. So you just gotta look at it like that and just kind of move on and forget this one pretty quickly.”
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